Monthly Archives: January 2012

Comptoir Libanais

South Kensington is a place I often find myself, either after wondering around the V&A or one of the surrounding museums and I continually have a problem trying to find anywhere good to eat or drink.

Every place I stumble upon seems to be ridiculously over priced or just rubbish and surviving on the fact that so many tourists, and non West Londoners like myself, are hungry or thirsty and will just drop into anywhere nearby. Luckily I’ve found a few options to safeguard against this and one such is Comptoir Libanais on Exhibition Road.

This is the second in the chain of ‘fast’ food Lebanese restaurants and it’s ideal for a quick, tasty meal that won’t break the bank. You can choose from several platters piled up with deliciously comforting treats such as smoky aubergine baba ghanoush, falafel, hummus, and salads with pitta bread for dipping and fried vegetable samosas. These are to share but if you’re feeling greedy and a lover of  creamy hummus topped with pomegranate seeds, and let’s be honest who isn’t, then you might be able to go for one.

For the main meals there are lots of small dishes and I had the prune and lamb tagine which was so tender it virtually melted into one. There are also meat koftas with side salads, whole salads for those attempting to be healthy and lovingly prepared mousakas with crispy fried onions and fresh pomegranate seeds on top – it doesn’t sound like it should work but it does. A mouthful of this feels a bit like a giant duvet wrapped around you, it’s delicious, warming and will leave you feeling comfortably full.

The pudding selection is a bit of a must. There are lots of beautiful looking sweet treats, from rose water macaroons to more varieties of baklava then I ever thought possible and as they’re so tiny you can almost believe they’re calorie free.

All the dishes are around £7 which is a bargain given the location and the quality of the food. It’s a little bit like Leon but better and the bright paintwork and pictures create a cheery atmosphere which is a must at this time of year.

One thing I would avoid next time is the wine. Despite the good value and tasty food, the wine was expensive and the quality was no where near as good as the food. Instead I would go for one of the freshly made juices or some traditional green tea.

This article was originally written for Who’s Jack.


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Adventure Bar

Adventure BarIf you find yourself in Covent Garden and in need of a cocktail, the Adventure Bar is here to quench your thirst. It’s located about 10 minutes from the tube station on Bedford Street and is a small underground bar offering almost every cocktail imaginable.

It’s got all the classics, such as a Margarita or Tom Collins, but also numerous twists on these and new creations. Take the Flaming Zombie, an exciting drink to watch being made, it’s mixed with a selection of rums, lemon juice, mango puree and pineapple juice and to top it off a flaming passion fruit shell is artistically balanced on top.

Or maybe the Fallen Angel – a slightly more sophisticated cocktail made of a light blend of vodka, pear liqueur and apple juice. If you’re on a heavier night there are also shots available (unsurprisingly) and you can choose from a whole host of retro sweet-flavoured spirits like sherbet flying saucers or rhubarb and custard.

A lot of the cocktails mix unusual blends together, such as pineapple and chilli or basil and cucumber, but it works well and if you’re not the adventurous type the bar staff can make up anything you fancy.

The bar is small, dark and slightly dingy with music to suit most tastes but verging on cheese. In the few hours I was there I heard (and sang along to) Abba, Oasis and Guns and Roses to name a few. The customers inside were mainly made up of male workers in suits (on a week night) and it’s a good place to go with a group as the tables are laden with party hats and poppers and you’ll get a free bottle of champagne with bookings of eight people or more.

But what didn’t really mesh well were the impressive, but expensive, cocktails in the grungy environment. It seemed like a mix of sophisticated cocktail bar with cheesy night club and there was a whole lot less adventure than I had hoped for. Maybe my imagination is a little too extravagant but I was imagining hands-on games, quirky furniture and décor or maybe a retro cartoon or two adorning the walls. But sadly for a bar (and a website) with so much promise it was all a bit too minimal for me.

It’s a handy bar to know about if you’re looking for a good cocktail away from the crowds of Covent Garden, but at around £8-9 per drink for a pretty average bar, I’d recommend visiting in happy hour (5-7pm) or taking advantage of the free drink voucher you can get when you sign up to the bar’s newsletter.

This article was originally written for Who’s Jack.

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Gospel Brunch

Gospel Brunch

If you share my passion for American gospel music and singing aloud (on occasion) combined with huge breakfasts than you’re in for a treat. The restaurant at the top of the Milbank Tower – Altitude 360– has successfully blended the two together in an winning combination of soul music and pecan pie.

The venue is breath taking with views stretching out across London in every direction. And as you take it all in you get to feast on a traditional southern American brunch.

To start there’s a tempting selection of homemade breads, from brown sugar cornbread – a bit like gingerbread without the ginger- to sweet brioche with caramelised onion and rosemary and pumpkin bread. A word of advice though – don’t fill up on the bread as however good it tastes, you’ve still got two massive courses to get through.

For the main event there are several dishes to choose from and I picked the barbecued ribs with rosemary parmentier potatoes. The ribs pretty much slipped off the bone with tenderness and the whole dish was deliciously coated in a sticky barbecue sauce. There were sweet options also, crepes and banana French toast, and a few classics including chicken and Cajun spiced potato wedges and barbecue chicken with black beans and yellow rice.

The portions are American-sized so by now I was feeling happily full and in need of a lie down but the sight of the key lime pie woke up my pudding stomach. I also managed to try the Mississippi mud pie which was heavenly although defeated me to only a few bites.

Gospel BrunchI could talk about the food all day but what really deserves a separate review is the London Community Gospel Choir singers who did four sets during the three hours we were there. The whole thing was very American and while it may work in New York I never expected us oh so reserved Londoners to enjoy such a  spectacle. But even my cold hearted musical-hating friends were singing and clapping away to the songs which were emotional, uplifting and all together other worldly.

There was everything from traditional American ballads to Bob Marley and Beatles covers and a few numbers from Sister Act.

The experience was different but brilliant however at £49 a person (not including drinks) it’s a very expensive treat.

This article was originally written for Who’s Jack.

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